Military-Ruled Egypt Opposes US Strike on Syria

The newly assertive Egyptian military and the civilian transitional government in Egypt are helping make President Obama’s life difficult. Likely it was Egypt that blocked the Arab League from calling for intervention against the Syrian regime despite its condemnation of Damascus for using chemical weapons.

Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy rejected a Western strike on Syria. He said that no country could attack another save in self-defense or in the case of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force. The military-dominated government in Cairo despises political Islam and therefore doesn’t like the rebel forces. It now tilts toward the Arab Nationalist line of the Syrian Baath.

Leftist Egyptian politician Hamdeen Sabahi called on all Arabs to unite against a Western attack on Syria. He warned that if Syria were hit, Egypt would be next. This is paranoid stuff; the US has no intention of bombing Egypt!

Some Egyptian officials have criticized the US for not having a clear strategy for ‘the day after’.

Hosni Mubarak and Muhammad Morsi might have cooperated with the US on a strike. Those days are long past.

Posted in Egypt,Syria | 16 Responses | Print |

16 Responses

  1. Quote
    This is paranoid stuff; the US has no intention of bombing Egypt!

    Indeed but it had no intention to bomb neither Lebanon, Iraq, Libya or … Syria.

    At his place I would be paranoid.

  2. Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has already bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya and has both Syria and Iran in the gunsights. If the Egyption leaders are paranoid about being just another Muslim state to be bombed, perhaps they have good reasons.

    • The US would not bomb Egypt because the Egyptian military is integral for peace in the region, especially with Israel, believe it or not. Trust me, the State Department doesn’t mind Sisi, they just have to act like they do.

  3. Prof. Cole, I am not a fan of the military govt. in Egypt, but as stated In your piece, their stand appears principled. As to paranoia, if I were a Muslim Mid East country, I would be paranoid too. Uncle Sam has a history here as you have so often pointed out!

  4. It seems that the whole thing is a implementation of the “Clean Break” strategy from 2000:

    The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”. It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, and the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare and highlighting their possession of “weapons of mass destruction”.

    link to

    And if President Obama goes ahead with any unilateral military actions, that would be a serious blow to the UN role, yet another goal of the neocons.

    It seems that after all the slogans President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Hagel are continuing on where President Bush left off.

  5. Ah, the worm turns. Egypt is now a player, as they should be; but likely will be ignored because they’re not behaving; not playing nice, by our definitions. And who are we to define definitions?
    As I’ve mentioned before; there is another super power; it’s the rest of the world.
    As the U.S. becomes more unilateral it necessarily excludes the rest of that very world and it’s (the rest of the world) now demanding a voice in what happens to the world and their own selves.
    Chalmers Johnson, a brilliant (IMHO) mind, may well have coined the term “Blowback”; if we continue in our present course, we will guarantee blowback!
    Quite simply, if we, in our hubris, think control is perpetual war, then by the gods, that’s exactly what we’ll get!
    We have choices, but they only matter if we can think in a critical way. What, truly, is the outcome we want?
    Think on that and then act accordingly; any other option is unthinkable, IMO…

    • It’s too late for military action of any sort. Strong diplomacy – including Iran – is imperative. Blowback to military action is sure to occur in unforeseen ways that will draw the US even deeper into the Middle East from a military perspective.

      I listened to Kerry and I believe him regarding what “we know.” I ache for the Syrian civilians (of all persuasions). Intervention or not – conditions will only get worse for them.

      The US simply has no support from any world organization or meaningful country (except France!) for an attack on Syria of whatever nature. The administration has really boxed itself in with fine rhetoric – which is no reason to attack.

      Call Congress to return to Washington and VOTE on this. We need our Reps and Senators to publically state their position – a la the British Parliament.

      I am a committed Democrat and an Obama/Kerry supporter … but they are wrong to suggest attacking Syria.

  6. Putting aside that fact that no limited, punitive strike has ever punished anyone into good behavior and can only become effective when unlimited, we have to credit Team Obama with reaching an astonishing level of paint-yourself-into-a-public-corner blundering.

    It would be really interesting to know who is generating this kind of ‘policy’.

  7. Prof Cole, as an expert on the Middle East you know that they think conspiracy much more readily then Americans in academia and the main stream media who swallow everything only to “regret” their errors later. I would wager that a significant chunk of the world outside of the Beltway presume Assad’s didn’t do it and would only change their mind if presented with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Having dissected Kerry’s speech, that evidence is so thin that they aren’t even trying to pin it on Assad, at best they make the case for a foul up of some sort. What is more likely is that the losing team went for a Hail Mary with at a minimum of some wink-winks from outside powers.

    In America you cannot be convicted of petty theft unless a jury finds you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Are we so ready to expand a war and kill children with “surgical” strikes based merely on prejudicial hand-waving arguments?

    Maybe the Egyptian Military is mouthing the words given to them by their Deep State counterparts in the American Military who want nothing to do with this war? Or maybe, like the majority of people in the world, France, America, Britain, Syria, Russia, China – they just don’t think war is the answer?

  8. There is a very good editorial by Rubeen Ali posted on google+. The title “The West will never solve Middle East problems”. Written from a West Bank perspective provide great insights.

  9. Egypt, even if its people are starving, is THE Central country in the Middle East, together with Iran. It was turned into a minion by Mubarak but after 2011 it can no longer be. The law of unintended consequences applies. Egypt and Iran have common interests, they will not yield to Israel and Saudi Arabia. And Syria may be weakened as a state, but it is becoming the training ground for non-state actors. That means trouble for Israel, Turkey and the sheikhs.

  10. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. I remember a neo con-oriented Wall Street ‘journalist’ speaking at the 2002 Middle East Institute calling for bombing Syria

    It would be nice if the State Department staff could be able to do their job – ie statecraft, rather than be reduced/restricted to public affairs work.

    It’s past time for that change and too irrestible to deviate from old formulas

  11. The reasons aren’t just US-centric opposition or necessarily Arab unity.

    The Egyptian military govt have been fearing more global jihadist militants from Syria getting more active and forming links with local Egyptian or Palestinian pro-militant supporters, who aren’t shy about giving refuge to Syria’s militants or sending their own to fight in Syria, let alone against the current Egyptian government and state.

    Just after the coup, during the unrest, you’ll find a story in between where the Egyptian military simply refused a plane full of Syrian refugees and sent them back (or elsewhere), citing them as a security risk.

    It is actually more interesting along the Saudi-Egyptian relationship lines and their respective thinkings. After all the fundamentalist Saudi Arabia has strongly backed the military, who too are weary of the MB or independent political Islamists. But at the same time also back some (a little more selective in their backing) of the ideological Syrian jihadists and any international strikes that maybe detrimental to Assad, helping the opposition.

  12. Large numbers of Egyptians, the Egyptian army and police, and the Egyptian media are making life very difficult for Syrian refugees. Promilitary TV hosts like CBC’s Lamis El Hadidi say things like, “I support Assad because he’s killing you, and you deserve it.” Syrians, along with Gazans and Muslim Brothers, are targeted both by the police and violent vigilantes.
    It’s creepy to see leftists support this fascism simply because Egypt’s rulers are not cooperating 100% with the US.

  13. US is not sensitive to needs of countries in neighborhood who will be affected when Jihadis get a boost in Syria. They got a boost in Libya and now policy appears to repeat that success. Meanwhile Hollande fought Jihadis in Mali but supports them in Syria! Dies this sound rational?

    link to
    Al Qaeda in Iraq calls on Egyptians to fight army

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